Four climbers die in Glencoe avalanche

A group of six mountaineers fell 500 feet, a day after six hillwalkers were airlifted to safety off the Cairngorms

Two men and two women died in an avalanche in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands yesterday. The four were part of a group of six climbers descending the Bidean Nam Bian peak when a snow slope is said to have "broken away" causing them to fall 500 feet, leaving them buried under two feet of snow and ice.

A third man in the group escaped and managed to raise the alarm. He was able to direct mountain rescue teams to the site of the avalanche where they began to search, using dogs. One woman was taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William, where she is being treated for "serious" head injuries.

Rescue teams and police dogs continued to scour the area and later located four more bodies who were pronounced dead at the scene, a spokesman for the Northern Constabulary said last night. The search and rescue operation involved the Glencoe and Lochaber Mountain Rescue teams, together with police search and rescue units.

The tragedy occurred after the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) issued a warning that "human-triggered avalanches are likely" in the Glencoe area. The risk was rated as "considerable" in places. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's Deputy First Minister, tweeted: "Dreadful news from Glencoe. Thoughts with all those affected."

David Gibson, chief officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS), said Bidean Nam Bian is a Munro – a mountain with a height in excess of 3,000ft – with a number of different climbs.

"It is a fantastic location to go climbing at this time of the year as it is very beautiful," he said. "It is always difficult in these circumstances, but I think the advice we would give to people is to check the weather and avalanche forecasts before setting off, and to assess the risks. The thoughts of the MCoS are with all of those involved and the rescue services up there doing the job."

In a separate incident on Friday, six hillwalkers were airlifted from the Cairn Toul area of the Cairngorms when a woman became lost in severe weather. She was being monitored at Raigmore Hospital yesterday.

In 2009/10 five people were killed by avalanches on Scottish mountains and last weekend avalanche awareness courses were launched for Scottish climbers, There have already been 45 avalanches on Scotland's mountains this winter, according to the SAIS. There were more than 175 recorded last year.

Avalanches claimed the lives of three climbers in 2009 on the slopes of Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe, and, in February 2010, Christopher Walker, 29, a mountain instructor from Keswick, Cumbria, and Robert Pritchard, 37, from New Malden, Surrey, were hit by a small avalanche in the same area.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot